STANTON — This year has been a draining but productive one for the Montcalm County Drain Commission.
Sandy Raines was elected drain commissioner last November. According to Raines, her office has either started or completed 10 major drain projects throughout the county this year.
That’s in addition to multiple problems with clay tile drain systems throughout the county exacerbated by the heavy rains last spring. The majority of the drainage systems were constructed back in the early 1900s. Drain workers were able to repair some of the clay tile drains as maintenance, as the Michigan Drain Code provides for annual maintenance up to $5,000 per mile per year, which can be expended and assessed to the drainage districts without a petition. But some of the clay tile drains remain in questionable condition.
“This has been a very busy year for my office,” Raines summarized.
One major project underway is repairing the Coral drain in Maple Valley Township. The Coral drain was built in 1935 and runs two miles long. When Raines began regular maintenance work on the drain, she realized she needed more funds to fully do the project justice.
So she went to the Maple Township Board for help.
“I explained that I am close to spending the $5,000 per mile/per year that I’m allowed to do under maintenance, and asked the board to pass a resolution to allow me to expend funds in excess of the $5,000 per mile which the Drain Code provides for so I could finish the project this fall,” Raines said.
The township board approved Raines’ request, allowing her to replace clay tile with plastic tile, as well as to install two catch basins at an estimated cost of $12,000.
Other finished drain commission projects this year include:
• The Fuller and Extension drain, built in 1902 in Crystal Township (see accompanying story for more details).
• Drain No. 114, built in 1903 in Day Township and the village of McBride. The Drain Commission repaired tile, replaced two catch basins and installed tile liner through a culvert underneath the Rails to Trails.
• The Baker Lake drain, built in 1914 in Evergreen Township. The Drain Commission worked with the Road Commission for Montcalm County due to flooding over Muskrat Road and repaired and replaced clay tile with plastic tile.
• The Barkams and Summers drain, built in 1915 in Bushnell Township. The Drain Commission worked with the Road Commission due to flooding over Condensery Road. Clay tile was replaced with plastic tile due to what Raines called “severe misalignment and blowouts.” The Road Commission also replaced the culvert across Condensery Road.
• The Sanborn drain, built in 1915 in Cato Township. The Drain Commission repaired and replaced clay tile with plastic tile in several locations and replaced catch basins.
• The Warren drain, built in 1916 in Bloomer Township. The Drain Commission repaired and replaced clay tile with plastic tile.
• The Sayles drain, built in 1916 in Bloomer Township. The Drain Commission repaired and replaced clay tile with plastic tile.
• The Stanton drain, built in 1921 in Evergreen Township. The Drain Commission worked with the Road Commission due to flooding over Beardsley Road and repaired and replaced clay tile with plastic tile due to blowouts.
• The Greenhoe drain, built in 1949 in Bloomer Township. The Drain Commission repaired and replaced clay tile with plastic tile.
Raines said an improved working relationship between the Drain Commission and the Road Commission made a big difference in accomplishing these projects this year.
“By working more closely together, we have solved flooding issues and replaced several road crossings on county drains, which has been very beneficial to the townships and the residents of Montcalm County,” Raines said. “Mark Christensen’s cooperation with my office has been outstanding.”
Christensen, the managing director of the Road Commission, said the Road Commission has always enjoyed a good working relationship with the Drain Commission and continues to do so with Raines at the helm. He said the partnership has saved local townships some funds as well.
“We’ve been able to team up on a lot of stuff,” Christensen said. “There were places where maintenance was needed on county drains which also benefited the Road Commission. It just continues to be a good working relationship.”